In full recognition that I am stating the obvious, this is the first post on this blog. Thus, it behooves me to outline the intentions and purpose of the writings herein. It is my intent in this post to describe what this blog is and what it is not.
Let me start by explaining my passion for energy. I have, as far back as I can remember, always loved the topic of energy. Energy, considered broadly, is behind the scenes for every process on the earth and in the universe, small and large. Energy comes in various forms. I have an interest in all the various forms of energy, and in the conversions between the forms, which include: mechanical energy (kinetic and potential), thermal energy, electrical energy, chemical energy, nuclear energy, and even dark energy. All of these I intend to explore further in future posts.
Perhaps the most famous scientific equation in the world today (that is, the most popular answer when randomly asking someone to state any scientific equation) is E equals M C squared:
meaning energy equals mass times the speed of light squared. This expression identifies the equivalency between energy and mass. Its popularity gives an indication that energy is a concept that is recognized as important in society as a whole, though not everyone completely understands it. In fact, I would argue that no one completely understands the concept of equivalency between mass and energy, myself definitely included.
At any rate, partly because of my interest in energy and the desire to understand the complex workings of energy in the universe, I pursued and eventually acquired a bachelor’s degree in physics. I also obtained a master’s degree in nuclear engineering and have put those degrees to good use working in a career in engineering.
I have been inspired by various scientists, engineers, and writers along the way. Besides the famous, recognizable ones and the lesser known ones that I have known personally, three figures inspirational to this particular blog are Vaclav Smil, Steven Levitt, and Stephen J. Dubner (the latter two of the Freakonomics team). I will borrow something of the writing and thinking style of these three for this blog.
So what do I intend to include about energy in this blog? What will be my topic of particular focus? How will I narrow down this vast topic into something worth reading? Well, I do not intend to limit myself. If a topic somehow relates to energy, I will include it. I may cover anything and everything about energy. This includes not only scientifically measurable energy (which is what I will devote most of my attention to) but also metaphysical (I hope I am not abusing that word too much) forms of energy (as in, “I just don’t have the energy for that now”, meaning not “I do not have the necessary stores of chemical energy in my body tissues to do that”, but rather “that is outside what I feel capable of accomplishing at this moment”).
Now, I realize that not everyone shares my passion for energy, and most people probably don’t think about it as much as I do. So how is anyone else going to get anything out of this blog? Well, it is my goal to write in an engaging style that anyone can appreciate. I will have some technical concepts and some equations and math in here, but if you don’t want those details, just skip over that part. I really enjoy taking concepts that may be technical and difficult to understand and breaking them down to where anyone can understand them. It is my plan to include charts and tables in this blog to make things more interesting and easy to understand.
The purpose of this blog is to fulfill its broad and overly vague title of “Thoughts on Energy”. I decided that was a fitting title for my intended subject for writing, energy in just about any context. When one performs an Internet search for “thoughts on energy”, the most popular results that come up are related to the (hypothesized) relationship between thoughts and energy. I don’t mean to connect the two as the main topic of my blog. That is, this isn’t a blog about how thoughts and energy are related. No, this is just a blog with my thoughts about the topic of energy.
I recognize that there are many ways to produce and absorb content these days, from audio messages (podcasts and audiobooks) to video (Youtube) to various forms of the written word. I have obviously chosen as my medium the written word. My goal is to produce content that is interesting to read and includes relevant links so that the reader can find additional information on a particular topic if they so desire. I also intend to make the content audio-friendly such that someone can listen to the content as well and benefit from it. I know I enjoy listening to a good TED talk on my commute to and from work. Perhaps someday I will branch out into other forms of content such as Youtube videos, but for now I am going to explore writing.
For most of the rest of this post I will explain the guiding principles behind my writing, which you may or may not care about. Feel free to skip to the next post at this point if you have had your fill of introductory remarks. The guiding principles, which I will explain further below, are:
First, transparency. I do not have a hidden agenda, and it is never my intent to misconstrue data. I intend to be open about where I am getting my facts and am always open to being corrected. I reserve the right to be smarter tomorrow than I am today. I will probably never claim to have the final answer on any particular topic. This blog is exploratory, not authoritative.
Second, accuracy. Notwithstanding the transparency ideal in the previous paragraph and the resulting constant possibility of being corrected by new and better data, my goal is to be as accurate as possible. I want to provide content you can trust. However, obviously I can’t be an expert in every subject, and thus I may misstate some things. I might make math mistakes every once in a while (I doubt it, but it is possible).
Next, relevancy. In this blog I will provide fresh, relevant, and thought-provoking content. It is natural that content published on the Internet can have a short shelf life. What is relevant today (be it sports, pop culture, or other news) is often stale and inconsequential in the future (though they may still have some significance as historical interest). My goal is to produce content that is general enough that it will be relevant far into the future, so that when this content is found years from now it can still be interesting and useful. Also, my intent is that the content will be useful for pretty much anyone that can read. The content will be understandable by the average educated person (usually including middle and high school students) and yet still stimulating and interesting to the more advanced scientists, engineers, and mathematicians out there who have an interest in energy-related topics.
The next guiding principle is thoroughness. In reality, I wasn’t even sure that was a word until I typed it out and my word processor seems to be okay with it. What I mean is that I intend to be complete in my treatment of a topic. This is dangerous, of course, because if I attempt to be too complete, these posts will get way too long, and too long is easily ignored and thus not effective in reaching people. Thus, I will limit myself to adequate treatment of a topic and always reserve the right to bring up the topic (or a closely related topic) again in a future post. Of course I can’t be fully thorough on any topic. There are entire books and entire research careers devoted to many of the topics I intend to treat. My purpose is not to be the most definitive source in every energy topic, but to present some ideas in a broad sense for further consideration.
The last guiding principle to expound upon is agreeableness. By this I mean that I do not intend to produce any controversial material. I will stay away from politics. I do not intend to get anyone riled up. I will not intentionally write anything offensive to any particular individuals or groups.
Thus concludes my guiding principles. On a related note, I don’t intend to produce any material meant to be popular for popularity’s sake. Certainly, I would appreciate a large audience of people partaking of the content I produce and finding it to be worthwhile, but it is not my intention to seek wide acclaim for my writing. I will maintain freedom to write according to my interest and not according to what will generate the most traffic. In my opinion, too much of the content of the Internet has degraded into a contest of excessive sensationalism. Thoughtful dialogue has in many cases been replaced by “click bait” designed to elicit just enough curiosity to entice someone to click on a link, and then not provide any meaningful content. But I digress.
Next, no introduction is complete without a few disclaimers. I don’t provide any investment or tax advice in this blog. I also don’t provide relationship or psychiatric advice. I’m not a doctor. I don’t have access to secret archives or millions of dollars of research funding or special equipment. I’m just one guy with a computer and access to the Internet and a lot of passion for energy and for writing, but I think that is pretty powerful by itself.
Finally, is this really the blog you should be reading if you have an interest in energy? Maybe there is a similar blog out there that is better than this one. Certainly this type of thing has been created before. Honestly, there probably is a better blog out there for whatever you are looking for, and I hope you find it. In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy this blog.
Also, I personally couldn’t find anything similar to what I intend this blog to become; that is part of why I decided to create it. Sure, there are lots of energy blogs out there. An Internet search of the term “energy blog” yields a lot of results, but they seem to be either narrow in focus or industry-centric, that is, focused on energy as an industry and not energy for its own sake.
Some of the notable blogs I found include Energy Central dot com, which seems to have a good balance of various energy industry news items, Your Energy Blog dot com, which has a pretty good mix of content but hasn’t been updated for a few years and appears to overemphasize the sensational, and Renewable Energy World dot com, which is, as the name implies, narrowly focused on renewable energy.
But perhaps it is too much to ask of an Internet search to find something like the blog I intend to create using as broad a search as “energy blog”. Perhaps a search of the term “random thoughts about energy” would yield better results. I can tell you from my experience that that search does not yield better results. The first result in my search was a blog from someone in Australia who seems to focus these days on criticism of the government, but the blog overall seems to focus on religious content. The next result is a person in the United Kingdom focused on energy policy and that seems to be pretty boring. Other notable results include one from a gentleman in the United Kingdom who seems to have something similar to what I want, but only has four posts that appear to be pretty old. Finally, there is a blog from a gentleman in California, but it is very narrow related to energy (electricity) markets, and is heavy enough in policy that most normal people (including me) probably can’t read much of it.
So, if you find a blog out there similar to this one, let me know. I personally think this blog is pretty special. But I may be biased.
With the introduction now complete, let us get to the real content!